(GoHealthier.com) – Finding the right dieting advice isn’t always easy. Even those of us who do what we can to follow the most reasonable recommendations may sometimes find ourselves veering off onto the wrong track.
The debate over carbs has been a hot topic at times, and whole generations of people have grown to learn that all carbs are bad for us. Avoiding them like the plague might not be the key to improved health, however. Here’s how each of us can take a more balanced approach.
The popularity of ketogenic diets has led many people to believe they need to avoid carbs if they want to be healthy. While diets too high in carbs can be problematic, being careful about the types we consume may be more important than the amounts. Even more, diets too low in carbs may lead to health issues of their own. We have details on why low-carb diets might not be the answer in the article below.
See Why Avoiding Carbs Might Not Be the Answer.
The Logic Behind Low-Carb Diets
Low-carb diets have shown promise in treating obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. In fact, some doctors recommend taking a low-carb approach when all other attempts to rein in obesity and related health conditions have failed.
These types of diets work with the understanding that our bodies can process energy in two different ways, depending on which fuel sources we give them. In most cases, we burn sugars, with the bulk of our energy coming from carbohydrates. When we deprive our bodies of carbs, our metabolisms shift gears to burn protein instead. This state is called dietary ketosis, and many experts agree that it can aid in weight loss.
Most doctors who recommend low-carb regimens do so with caution. Restrictive diets can deprive users of vital nutrients, warns Harvard Health; cutting carbs may also mean cutting sources of fiber, vitamin E, all the B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium. Not getting enough carbs may also lead to serious metabolic repercussions:
- Dietary ketosis creates waste products called ketone bodies, which appear in the blood. Some evidence suggests ketone bodies can cause cardiovascular damage similar to that caused by dangerously high blood sugar.
- Low-carbohydrate diets may contribute to the formation or worsening of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Children with type 1 diabetes who’ve been put on low-carb diets have demonstrated poor development and increased cardiovascular risks.
Other potential complications include increased risks for osteoporosis, cancer, and kidney damage.
Finding a Balance
Most experts agree that the quantity of carbs we consume in a given meal isn’t as important as the quality of those we include regularly in our diets. For example, there’s a big nutritional difference between a cup of white rice and a cup of brown rice or quinoa; a sugar-laden boxed breakfast cereal isn’t going to provide the same broad array of nutrients as a bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit.
The more refined or processed a food is, the “emptier” it also is. People concerned about their carb intake should consider not cutting them out but ensuring those they do eat are as unprocessed as possible. The USDA recommends that between 45% and 65% of all diets should be composed of carbohydrates; when those carbs are part of healthy eating patterns, other positive health effects are likely to follow.
Experts far from agree on the best way to go about losing weight, but USDA recommendations should always come before any fad diet. People who do decide to try low-carb regimens should do so only under doctor supervision. Losing weight absolutely should be a priority for some people, but safety also should come first.
~Here’s to a Healthier Life!
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